Creativity can be draining. One must travel deep into places of the imagination to bring back these little gems we refer to as 'ideas'. It can leave one depleted from the exchange of vulnerability for newness.
However, when we were kids, we weren't quite conscious of our vulnerability, to the maturity we now know as adults. Instead, we had innocence. This innocence became the breeding ground for imagination. We thought limitlessly and yes, unicorns existed and you know it.
In order for us to break the patterns of stagnant creativity, we need to revisit our childhood.
I was once told by one of my mentors "you can't think your way into acting, you must act your way into thinking".
Below are 7 ways to cure the creative blues.
They all have to do with things you perhaps did a few times when you were a kid and may not do as often anymore.
1. Go fishing
There are too many reasons why fishing brews creativity. At the heart is the liberating freedom of being in the outdoors, in sync with nature, and the thrill of self-fulfilment when catching fish. Some would say that there's nothing that can make you feel more alive than interacting with creatures of the deep. Getting fresh air in your lungs and your daily dose of vitamin D is an added bonus. Plus, depending on your mood, you can fling the rod solo or extend it as a social gathering.
On the data front, a 2009 medical research study in the U.S. showed after three days of fly fishing, those that participated recorded a 32% decrease in guilt and a 43% decrease in feelings of hostility. Feelings of fear were also reduced by 30% and sadness plummeted by 36%. A portion of these positive effects continued up to a full month after the fishing retreat which was the foundation of the study.
2. Watch movies
Ever had months on end where you've been so busy that the only 'you' time you've had is with the meeting of your head to the pillow?
I feel you on that one. I've had moments when I forgot what it felt like to be transported into a new world through a powerful film. If you have found the time, do you stick to watching movies on weekends? An approach worth trying is to break the pattern. Watch a movie on a Monday or Wednesday night (whether it be on the cinema or at home). Break the rules. Break the monotony. It's not easy, but observe your physiology after. I'm sure it'll be a positive one.
3. Have a peanut butter sandwich
Strictly and only if you are not allergic of course! I personally used to have these almost daily when I was a kid. I couldn't get enough. Whatever simple sandwich your mum would make for you, have one. Your nostalgic mind will love you for it.
4. Learn a new skill
Ever tried archery? How about learn a few magic tricks? What about salsa dancing? Do you know how to make a croissant from scratch? Learning is the catalyst for fulfilment. So you might as well collide your learning with excitement too. Many of our ideas progress to the 80% mark. Often, collaboration helps take the idea all the way. Sometimes, it doesn't. We need to create new pathways in our mind and learning a new skill can often unlock new creative thinking.
5. Go to the zoo
I recently went to a two year olds birthday party. At this party, I was met with ponies, piglets, llamas, chickens, goats and all sorts of animals. This immediately took me back to the times I went to the zoo in primary school. Have you ever thought why it was part of the curriculum to go to the zoo? Or why families go there to spend the day?
Upon reflection, if it wasn't for those visits, I wouldn't of developed an appreciation for animals and the natural world. Animals remind us of the exponentially extraordinary world we live in through their self-sustaining ecosystem. They can lift our mood through their individually majestic movements. And we can somehow disconnect from our own reality (albeit only briefly) and connect to a characteristic they possess that we can relate to. Whether it’s metaphorically (a bird taking flight), emotionally (a mother giraffe staying close to it's newborn), or physically (a lion roaring).
6. Write letters
A few months ago, I had lunch with Gary Smith in West Michigan, USA, who is the Vice President of Product Design and Development for Herman Miller. One story of his that I connected with was writing letters to people he cares about. I do this too and include why I'm grateful for them in my life.
A brain of clouded thoughts, tension, and perhaps stress can often cause plenty of our creative blocks. Writing about what you're grateful for to the people your grateful for, is a quick way of turning 'the glass half empty' perception to 'a glass half full'. Rather than thinking 'why can't I solve this problem?' we can begin to think 'what's good about this solution so far? What’s it lacking? And how can I get there?’.
Writing letters to our loved ones helps us step away from ourselves, to look outwardly and refocus. All of which indirectly affects our creative capacity.
7. Paint how you feel
Don't think about it. Buy some paint, a canvas, and go abstract. Don't be precious. Let it be what it'll be. When you're working on a project that requires creativity, it's important to let that creation breathe. Don't sit there for too long and stare at it. Leave then come back to it.
Painting can be a great activity during those breaks. However I don't mean the realistic type. Let your movements of the brush strokes have an unapologetic mind of it's own. Immerse yourself in the uncertainty and imperfection. Then title the painting as the emotion or situation that was present as you painted it. This particular exercise is incredibly liberating and reminds us that creativity is not about perfection. Creativity is about exploration.
I believe that we are all capable of creativity. Some of us are more exposed to ideas than others, which is why there is a level of perceived separation. In order for us to be creative and to sustain creativity, we must keep curiosity alive. Preserve the wonder you had as a child, and see every person or object as infinitely fascinating.
Kids ask plenty of questions in an attempt to make sense of the world. This should never end. Kids have a natural creativity that's constantly reinventing itself. Tap into this playfulness and keep exploring the playground that is the world.
What other ways have you cured your creative blues?
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Ram is an award winning Senior Designer, Art Director, CreativeLive Instructor and Author from Sydney, Australia. He's also the founder of educational blog; giantthinkers.com which helps design students and graduates be employed. He's since been featured in Communication Arts and HOW magazine.
For more on being a designer, read Ram's internationally industry acclaimed book here: www.getajobasadesigner.com
After over 10 years experience working for globally renowned agencies such as Ogilvy & Mather, DDB and McCann Worldgroup on clients such as Audi, Qantas, Telstra, CBA, Crown, AMEX and The Louis Vuitton Group, he's able to give back to the industry which has given him avalanches in return